A syllabus for the city

    Literacy-advocacy project One Book, One Philadelphia has selected the book for 2012 all Philadelphians should read. (It’s “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work,” by Edwidge Danticat.) In that spirit, we offer a dozen more suggestions from local notables.

     

    One Book, One Philadelphia, a project of the mayor’s office and the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes literacy, libraries, and community, has chosen “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work,” by Edwidge Danticat, for 2012.

    What book would you recommend we all read?

    Tell us in the comments below.

    Danticat is a Haitian-American writer and a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant. Her book of essays, “Create Dangerously,” brings to life the struggle of creativity in exile and life under the oppression of conflict.

    NewsWorks asks notable citizens in the region to create a MindMap, in which we ask: If you could order all of Philadelphia to read one book, what would it be and why?

    Here are some answers. 

    1. “A Prayer for the City,” by Buzz Bissinger

    No other book explains better how the city of Philadelphia works politically and how a very few people run the city. Brett Mapp, director of operations for Old City District, Creative Connector

     

    2. “Hackers and Painters,” by Paul Graham

    I love his style and analysis, and particularly the “Why nerds are unpopular” and “What you can’t say” essays. But these should be complemented by other ones on his website, including “How to do what you love,” “What you’ll wish you’d known in high school,” “On materialism,” “On why it doesn’t matter so much whether you go to a prestigious college (and for that matter, high school). Jacques-Jean Tiziou, photographer, Creative Connector

     

    3. “This Book Will Change Your Life: 365 Daily Instructions for Hysterical Living,” by Benrick (Ben Carey and Henrik Delehag)

    Because it would be pure hilarious chaos.Tina Marabito, Owner of Poppycock Tattoo, Wilmington, Del.

     

    4. “Andorra,” by Max Frisch

    This is a play about passing the blame and turning one’s head, rather than taking responsibility. We’re all responsible to our city, our lives in it, and the shared experiences we make and have. Anna Drozdowski, performing arts coordinator, Creative Connector

     

    5. “Metropolitan Paradise,” by David Contosta and Carol Franklin

    Because it could spark an ongoing dialog about the the region’s precious heritage of parks and open space and the need to preserve and protect our natural and cultural environments—locally and beyond.David R. Contosta, Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College

     

    6. “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” by Paul Tough

    Because good public education is the cornerstone of our city. Michael Norris, executive director of Art Reach, Creative Connector

     

    7. “Journal C of Station No. 2 of the Underground Railroad by Agent William Still 1852-1857”

    This amazing journal, the original of which is at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and owned by the Abolition Society of Pennsylvania, details the stories of hundreds of fugitives escaping slavery and coming to Philadelphia to gain their freedom. Each page brings home to human cost of slavery and the bravery of the men and women of the abolition movement who reinforced Philadelphia’s legacy as the birthplace of independence.Kim Sajet, President and CEO of Historical Society of Pennsylvania

     

    8. “The Power of Now,” by Eckhart Tolle

    It teaches the importance of living in the moment and how you can’t change the past or predict the future. Craig Hamilton, VP of Government and Community Affairs at the Philadelphia Orchestra, Creative Connector

     

    9. “Germinal by Emile Zola

    Particularly in this time of economic inequality, because it is a deeply personal account of people working hard while living in poverty and challenging the system they live within, even when it could cost them their lives. Aja Beech, poet, Creative Connector

     

    10. “The Soloist,” by Steve Lopez

    Because it’s by Lopez, a longtime Inquirer columnist, and because it shows how complex homelessness is and how many people are trying to help the less fortunate.Melissa Ford

     

    11. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Maria Remarque

    Because it makes very clear what war does to the people who are asked (or who are forced) to fight. The book highlights the patriotic propaganda at the heart of the lies society tells the young in order to entice them to sacrifice themselves for land, gold, oil, or national prestige. Suzanne Cloud, executive director of Jazz Bridge, Creative Connector

     

    12. “The Music Lesson,” by Victor Wooten

    It’s not so much a lesson in music but a lesson in living life.David Uosikkinen, drummer for The Hooters

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